A lot of us think of "stress-eating" when we talk about foods in relation to stress and anxiety. Ever bought a treat to cheer you up? Well the reason why we go towards certain foods when we are stressed or anxious is to boost our "feel-good" brain neurotransmitters, mainly serotonin. Did you know that you can use a healthy diet to create neurotransmitters like serotonin? Or use ingredients that create a calming effect in the brain? Here are certain vitamin-rich foods to look for:
B vitamins, especially Vitamin B6, are used in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin in the brain - making it usable for our cells. Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) is also thought to be implicated in mood regulation due to its involvement with homocysteine. Vitamin B12 reduces homocysteine levels which are thought to lead to poor moods.
Where to find B vitamins: Lean meats (Turkey, Beef, Chicken), Avocados, Nuts and seeds (Pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds), Fish (Tuna, Salmon), Beans, Nutritional Yeast, Eggs, Feta
2) Vitamin C
When we are undergoing stress, our body uses Vitamin C to produce norephinephrine and epinephrine (flight or fight hormones). Vitamin C gets quickly depleted in this bodily state, and therefore cannot be used for other reactions, one of them being serotonin production. If we are constantly producing the fight or flight hormones, then our adrenal glands become fatigued, and struggle to create any energy at all - which makes another reason why Vitamin C is important.
Where to find Vitamin C: Red peppers, Kale, Broccoli, Kiwi, Brussel sprouts, Oranges (don't overdo oranges as they are high in sugar)
Magnesium is an important mineral for nerve function and neurotransmitter release in the brain. It activates the calm, or parasympathetic response in the brain - therefore is helpful for anxiety. There is even research for magnesium in treatment-resistant depression.
Where to find magnesium: Spinach, Chard, Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Black beans, Cocoa powder, Figs, Avocados
4) Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into all cell membranes of the body, including that of the brain. It allows for brain signalling to occur easier, than if omega-6 fatty acids (from processed foods and animal products), were in the cell membranes. Therefore, by improving overall brain function, cognition (thinking/decision making) and mood are improved.
Where to find omega-3 fatty acids: Fish (Salmon, Sardines, Tuna), Flaxseed, Chia seeds, Walnuts
Did you find this article informative and would like to learn more? Grab a copy of my Ebook Eating Peacefully for 10 plant-based recipes for stress and anxiety. Get it here!
Or book a Naturopathic Initial Consult for your stress, anxiety or depression by clicking this icon - Book an Appointment.